NBA Draft preview: How to watch, mock drafts, trade talks, sleepers and more Sport News

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NBA Draft preview: How to watch, mock drafts, trade talks, sleepers and more Sport News

Hopefully you’ve had a minute to catch your breath after this whirlwind of a week leading up to the NBA Draft, because things could get more crazy Thursday night. For all the hoopla, starting with the Celtics trading the No. 1 overall pick to the 76ers, nothing earth shattering has actually happened. Paul George is still with the Pacers. Jimmy Butler is still with the Bulls. Boston is still clinging to its No. 3 pick this year and the six first-rounders it has over the next two years. 

That could all change Thursday night. 

Indeed, this figures to be a nail-biting draft. It’s a very deep class. Beyond Markelle Fultz going No. 1 to Philly and the Lakers almost certainly taking Lonzo Ball No. 2, we aren’t entirely sure about another pick. Almost anything could happen. Trades. Surprise picks. LaVar Ball! Here’s what you need to know about how to watch the draft, and what you might see.

Five Draft Questions

What will the Celtics do at No. 3? Considering Boston GM Danny Ainge already turned down an offer to swap this pick with Chicago in exchange for Jimmy Butler, chances are the Celtics keep it and select Josh Jackson or Jayson Tatum. But don’t rule anything out. This is Danny Ainge we’re talking about. He doesn’t do anything conventionally

Will the Celtics make any kind of trade? This remains a possibility since they have six first-round picks over the next two years, including two next year (via the Nets and Lakers) and both could be in the top five. Ainge basically has a shark-infested moat around his draft picks. Perhaps he drops the drawbridge for Kristaps Porzingis, who is reportedly on the table and who Ainge is believed to have interest in acquiring. Also, there is always the chance that the Bulls will re-offer Butler for a package that doesn’t include this year’s No. 3 pick. If that were to happen, Ainge might be willing to pull the trigger. 

Will the Knicks move up from No. 8? They’re dangling Porzingis and reportedly have interest in Jackson, so the makings of at least a conversation with Boston are there. They’ve also been keeping an eye on Kentucky point guard De’Aaron Fox, who will almost certainly go before No. 8. A lot of mocks, including Gary Parrish’s, have Fox going No. 5 to the Kings, who also have the No. 10 pick. They already reportedly passed on swapping picks with the Lakers to move up to No. 2, but would the Kings be willing to move back to No. 8, where they would miss out on Fox but still have two top-10 picks and presumably a good shot at Kentucky’s Malik Monk?  

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Josh Jackson is on a lot of short lists.
USATSI

Will Paul George still be a Pacer at the end of the draft? This feels like a coin flip. Indications are he’s headed to the Lakers; it’s only a matter of them trading for him this year or waiting for him to become a free agent next summer. The risk of taking the latter route is that some other team might swoop in and trade for George as a one-year rental. A lot of teams reportedly are interested in doing just that, with the hope they could convince George to stay long-term after a successful season. This is definitely one to watch closely. 

How many guarantees will LaVar Ball throw out? If Lonzo indeed goes to the Lakers, LaVar is going to have a smile that could light up Chino Hills. Anyway, I’m setting the over/under for LaVar guarantees at 2.5, and I’m taking the over. I’m saying he guarantees, at the very least — on live television or Twitter or in some interview or whatever — that the Lakers will make the playoffs next season, that Lonzo will lead the Lakers to a championship (probably multiple), and that LeBron is going to join Lonzo in L.A. next year. After all, Lonzo already started the recruiting pitch on that last one

Five guys not being talked about enough

His stock may have suffered some early last season as he played in the background of more celebrated Duke teammates, but he put on a shooting display at his pro day.

Kennard is everything you think of when someone says, “that guy is just a solid player.” He’s smart, shoots off the dribble and the catch, and he showed at Duke that he’s not afraid to put an offense on his back. Reid Forgave has him going No. 10 to the Kings. He could also go in the late teens or early 20s. He will help someone. 

Jackson is a bit more of a wild card than Kennard, but his ceiling is probably higher. He can shoot and he’s really athletic at the three spot. Parrish has him going No. 16 to the Bulls, sliding into the hole they have at small forward, but it wouldn’t be a shock for someone to take a chance on him earlier, and that could really pay off given the moderate risk of a mid-first-rounder, only a handful of which end up becoming All-Stars.

Hart, like Kennard, is just a ballplayer. Forgave has him going to the Spurs at No. 29, and if you put a smart, winning player like Hart in that San Antonio system, watch out. Danny Green was cut twice and was looking at a career overseas. Now he’s a core player with a championship ring making $10 million a year. Hart is one of those picks you could look back on in a few years and wonder how so many teams passed on him, and would be particularly true if he actually winds up in San Antonio. 

His numbers were terrific in his lone college season, but it’s more than numbers. This guy just has a feel for the game. His footwork on the block, touch around the rim and instincts as a shot blocker are excellent. On top of all that, he’s a 7-footer who shot nearly 44 percent from 3.

Swanigan is a beast who can shoot from deep, work the post and was a great college rebounder with a terrific attitude. He’s ready to contribute off the bench immediately for most teams. Swanigan (18.5 ppg, 12.5 rpg, 3.1 apg) is projected in the 33-43 range, and should be a top-20 pick. He potentially could be as productive as Draymond Green, another veteran college player who proved his worth, showed a dynamic skill set and still didn’t get taken in the first round.  — via Matt Norlander

Five Overrated Prospects (via Matt Norlander)

  • Markelle Fultz: Washington
  • Should be taken: Top 3
  • Figures to be taken: No. 1

Focus on the assumption he’s clearly separated from the pack, and not the big trade making him the presumptive No. 1 pick. He has been considered the No. 1 pick for nearly a year. He played on a bad Washington team, averaged 23.2 points (47.6 field goal percentage, 41.3 from 3-point range), 5.9 assists and 5.7 rebounds. We ranked him the third-best freshman last season, taking into account personal stats and impact on his team. He was very good but his teammates were not. But it’s a bit unfair to ding Fultz because he wasn’t able to single-handedly rescue Washington.

Consider Fultz is surrounded by so many good players in this draft, yet almost no one has suggested Lonzo Ball, Josh Jackson, Jayson Tatum, De’Aaron Fox, Dennis Smith or Jonathan Isaac as a No. 1 overall candidate. The NBA lands a only a few long-term impact players in most drafts, but this one seems different. Considering Fultz the clear-cut No. 1 has always seemed too definitive. He should be projected as a successful NBA starter — but he’s not bust-proof. Gifted offensively, his defense is at times lackadaisical (even at his best he’s not a top-10 defender in this draft). 

  • Malik Monk: Kentucky
  • Should be taken: Outside the top 10
  • Figures to be taken: No. 7 or No. 8

Monk is similar to Fultz: He can step into the NBA and average double-digits as a rookie and has been slotted in the top eight of mocks since November. He was a top-five prospect coming out of high school, and really only slid from that spot within the past 10 weeks. He’s a great scorer, but not much more (19.8 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 2.4 apg, 45 percent shooter). He lacks aggressiveness in getting to the hoop (John Calipari publicly implored Monk multiple times last season to draw more contact and get to the foul line), doesn’t naturally distribute, isn’t even a B-level defender and he needs to hit the weight room. Monk’s shooting range and capacity to score in bunches can’t be undersold, but he’s lacking in too many areas to be a sure-fire top-10 pick. There are a handful of guys projected below him who should go first. 

  • Ike Anigbogu: UCLA
  • Should be taken: Early second round 
  • Figures to be taken: high-to-mid 20s

Essentially an unknown freshman on a team with super freshmen Lonzo Ball and T.J. Leaf. In 13 minutes a game (only 26 percent of available playing time), Anigbogu averaged 4.7 points and 4.0 rebounds, yet seems to be a first-round lock. Anigbogu’s physical traits (6-foot-10 with a 7-6 wingspan) make him a coveted prospect. He could grow into a solid NBA defender and rebounder, and if a team gets that between Nos. 20 and 28 of the first round, it’s worth it. But if he winds up as a guy without real use in modern NBA offenses, then clubs would be better off spending a first-round pick on SMU‘s Semi Ojeleye, who matches Anigbogu’s athleticism and is NBA-ready at both ends of the floor. 

  • D.J. Wilson: Michigan
  • Should be taken: Mid-to-late 30s 
  • Figures to be taken: Mid-20s

Four months ago, he wasn’t viewed as a top-80 prospect. Now he’s in the mid-20s? Wilson helped Michigan to a Big Ten tournament title, a 7 seed in the NCAAs and a Sweet 16 appearance. He is taking advantage of red-hot stock he might have a hard time capitalizing on a year from now. He walks into the draft after averaging 11 points and 5.3 rebounds this past season. Wilson lacks the physicality needed to play up front in the NBA — even in today’s perimeter-focused game. The players have never been bigger or stronger, and having intuitiveness in the paint is crucial. Wilson’s too soft, doesn’t have a good post game and isn’t an aggressive rebounder. For a guy listed at 6-10, that’s an issue. Wilson would be good for a second-round flier is not first-round material. 

  • Josh Jackson: Kansas
  • Should be taken: Top 10
  • Figures to be taken: Top 4

Is Jackson a star? He’s got great energy and will defend multiple positions, but it’s hard to see him developing into a real scorer, certainly not one that is going to consistently create for himself, and he’s not a natural shooter. The offense doesn’t feel like it’s ever going to reach elite level. If he were going late lottery, that would be fine. He would have terrific upside there. But top four, probably top three if Boston indeed takes him? You need to be a star for that to pay off, especially because Boston turned down a trade for Jimmy Butler, who is a star, to keep that pick. – Brad Botkin

NBA Draft preview: How to watch, mock drafts, trade talks, sleepers and more Sport News

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NBA Draft preview: How to watch, mock drafts, trade talks, sleepers and more Sport News

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